Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

On the election outcomes

November 28th, 2011

Well, at least the election has pinpointed the site of Labour’s Last Stand – on Saturday night, south Auckland was almost the only place in the country where Labour grew its party vote. Elsewhere, and in former Labour strongholds like West Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch, even Labour’s successful electoral candidates still saw the party vote go to National.

Incredibly, this included in Jim Anderton’s old seat of Wigram, which went blue on the party vote. In tried and true tribal form, Labour now appears to be turning in on itself as the battle shapes up to replace Phil Goff as leader.

Rather than pick the leader most likely to defeat John Key, the factions within the parliamentary party seem hellbent on picking the candidate adjudged to be at blame for Labour’s debacle on Saturday. Which rat fink stabbed Phil in the back? (It had to be someone, right?) It is a truly bizarre way of thinking but David Cunliffe – never a caucus favourite – is reportedly copping the blame for not supporting Phil Goff enough.

Outside the fishbowl of the Labour Party caucus, that will seem a very strange accusation. To the general public, Cunliffe seemed the only Labour politician mounting any attack on National that had any teeth. Instead, the empty ritualistic claims of fealty to the fallen leader – like David Parker on Saturday night loudly declaiming “I’m bloody proud of Phil Goff!’ – seem to carry more weight.

Perhaps those pushing Parker’s cause could be asked to identify one thing Parker did publicly this year that helped Labour win more votes on Saturday night. In Epsom in 2008 for instance, Kate Sutton had run what was deemed to be a lacklustre campaign yet still won 20% of the party vote for Labour. On Saturday night, Parker’s high profile campaign in Epsom won only 15% of the party vote. Hardly a resounding success if… you know, if Labour really is looking for evidence that Parker-as-leader could win them more votes.

[Cunliffe did little better. In 2008, Labour scraped home in Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate only 60 votes ahead of National on the party vote; on Saturday night, Labour ended up in New Lynn over 1,000 votes behind National on the party vote.]

What the centre left would like Labour to do is stop the internecine bitching and pick the team best able to win the next election. On form displayed this year, that would have to be Cunliffe as leader, Parker as deputy. Not much chance of that, on current settings.

The other party with major leadership problems right now is of course, the Act Party. With karmic irony, the party of libertarian idealism has now saddled itself with a conservative – as in state corporatist – party machine hack as its public face and champion in Parliament. Good luck with that. While the outcome in Epsom was good for John Key and good for John Banks, the tea party that clinched the deal was fatal for Act’s niche appeal anywhere else in the country.

Even in Wellington Central, Act’s Stephen Whittington ran a solid campaign for the party vote based on Act’s original values – yet ended up with almost the same number of electorate votes on the night (317) as party votes (360) out of 31, 475 votes cast, or 1.14% of the total.

While the Banks/Epsom deal keeps the Act Party on artificial life support, the party of self reliance cannot ever hope to thrive until it can earn its own way in the world. For that reason, it would perhaps have been better for Act to have lost Epsom. At least then it could have begun afresh under the likes of Whittington and David Seymour and pitched itself anew to the Randian idealists out there on campus. That difficult path would, at least, have some honour to it.

Act’s problems were mirrored quite eerily on the left by the Mana Party, which failed to ignite. Earlier this year, I wrote a column arguing that Hone should hold back and spend the year promoting himself in Te Tai Tokerau as the lone Maori holdout against the Maori Party’s collusion with National – and then use that platform to launch his own party in the second term in the face of the carnage from welfare reform and asset sales. Saturday night’s results vindicated that argument.

Because the Mana Party succeeded only in preventing Labour from toppling Pita Sharples in Tamaki Makaurau, weakened Harawira’s grip on his home base in Te Tai Tokerau and got no extra seats from the exercise for its troubles. Still, there’s no turning back for Harawira now.

The Greens did well in crossing the 10% threshold that it had defined as its goal at the campaign outset – but without reaching the heights that had once seemed tantalisingly possible. As its co-leader Metiria Turei has already said, it may be difficult for the Greens to find grounds on which to advance its cause during National’s second term.

On Saturday night, Prime Minister John Key signalled that the environment would be the only likely area where the two parties could possibly co-operate. Well, in a press release a week before the election, the Greens claimed “water” to be the key environmental issue of this election, and that it had a three part plan to fix the problems.

1) Set standards for clean water and intensive agriculture;

2) Introduce a fair charge for irrigation water and;

3) Support water clean-up initiatives.

“Our standards for clean water will require stock exclusion from rivers and lakes within five years. Planting riverbanks and excluding stock from waterways has been shown to significantly improve water quality within three years,” said Dr Norman.

Give that the “fair charge” would cost farmers some $370 $570 million per year, that part of the plan won’t be a goer for National. But a watered down version of the plan (sorry) could be worthwhile for the Greens to put on the table for discussion, both as an environmental issue and as a job creation project. Among the Greens intake, Jan Logie and Holly Walker appear the likely strongest performers among the new MPs.

New Zealand First In 2002, the intake of United Future MPs that came in with that nice, moderate Peter Dunne proved to be a bunch of evangelical crazies who were anything BUT moderate. Peters’ platoon this time includes known quantities like former MP Barbara Stewart, former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, former TVNZ weather presenter Brendan Horan and former Democrats for Social Credit candidate Richard Prosser – whose most recent column for Investigate magazine toyed with making it mandatory for taxi drivers to carry Walther pistols, and made the case for dairy owners to be packing shotguns. At the 2008 election, Prosser had also floated the idea of letting the South Island have its own Parliament.

No such wackiness from the Maori Party, who can be relied on during this second term to stay firmly on message. On some of the important issues – such as asset sales – that message will involve lining up with those iwi flush with funds (e.g., Tainui, Ngai Tahu) who wish to buy into the state assets being put on the auction block. Conversely, on welfare reform the Maori Party will be backing National’s plans to crack down on the conditions for receiving welfare benefits. In other words, it will quickly become clear which side of the have/have nots divide in Maoridom that the Maori Party intends to stand upon, and Peters can be expected to be competing with Harawira for media space to criticise them for doing so.

Somehow, the Maori Party will have to find ways to deliver for its poorest constituents on jobs, jobs, jobs – and surely, at something better than the current minimum wage. It will have its work cut out. Especially since Sharples and Tariana Turia will both be retiring before the next election, and others will be left to cope with the collateral damage suffered by the party from its collusion with National.

Finally: the special votes. This year, they are a massive 240,000 in number, or some 10% of the total votes cast. Most commentators are picking – on past performance – for the Greens to pick up one extra seat and National to lose one seat, once the specials are finally tallied. Among the unknowns are the large numbers of Christchurch specials – with the question being raised by Anita at Kiwipolitico as to whether these voters displaced by the quake will be wealthier Cantabrians voting out of town (and voting centre right) or poorer Christchurch residents voting centre left.

The one bright spot for the centre left on Saturday night was the survival of MMP – although the shonkiness of the whole affair was underlined by the fact that informals (34%) topped FPP (32%) as the most popular alternative system, in the second part of the referendum. Clearly, many MMP supporters either put all their eggs in the one basket of MMP winning the contest outright, or (more likely) didn’t realise the possible importance of voting in the second part. Clear heads seem in pretty short supply on the centre left right now.


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    1. 36 Responses to “On the election outcomes”

    2. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      The so-called “Labour” Party are never going to ever get back onto the Treasury Benches with either Philip Goff or David Cunliffe as their leader.

      Phil is History, but what is going to be his replacement???

      They (the so-called “Labour” Party) seem to be completely Brain-Dead: … nothing Upstairs at all.

    3. By Tom on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      The vast majority of votes in the referendum are still to be counted, aren’t they?

    4. By Andrew P Nichols on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Among the Greens intake, Jan Logie and Holly Walker appear the likely strongest performers among the new MPs

      Maybe but watch that feisty Eugenie Sage (Forest and Bird and ECan Councillor) go on irrigation. She will definitely be one to watch. Could be the Sue Bradford replacement.

    5. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Am astounded that you do not seem to have written (yet) anything on Werewolf about the Election, Joe Blow.

    6. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Gordon, please can you inform us what was the Voting System Referendum result??? We need a real Journalist to tell us what actually our Electoral System is. We are not being told (about the Referendum Result)by the mass-media!!!

      Apart from Scoop! the Election coverage in this country has been nothing short of unutterably abominable.

    7. By Barry on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      I object very strongly to your description of the Christians who entered parliament in 2002 with United Future as “evangelical crazies”. I presume you would object to describing labour members as socialist atheist crazies or green party members as ecofascist crazies, etc etc, so can we keep the perjorative out of it.

      Most of the UF MPs were pretty moderate in their political views. They didn’t trust Capill, and were very willing to work in a combined secular/christian party, and work cooperatively with non-Christians of every political hue in the interests of New Zealanders. The rise of UF in 2002 can almost entirely be ascribed to the moderate Christian vote. The subsequent decline of UF was partly due to the undermining of the Christian MPs by the right-wing parties especially the theocratic Destiny party who felt the MPs had been too cooperative with the Left. Peter Dunne’s arrogance in ignoring his voters’ views in 2006 on the antismacking bill, and then calling them names, led to the self-decimation of his own party. (I stayed with the party until I became aware of his badmouthing). Now Dunne is back to exactly how much support he ever had on his own – less than enough party vote for one MP.

      At the moment there is a Lazarus constituency of economically and religiously moderate Christian voters. These are basically looking for a party who will let them bring up their families in peace, without social engineering, and will treat them with some respect. In the 2011 election I think a lot of them went to NZ First or the Conservatives or National. I would guess-timate them at upwards of 6%. Next time where will the Lazarus constituency rise?

    8. By Elyse on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Gordon, It might look to you like Hone didn’t achieve much, but I saw him at Grey Lynn festival a couple weeks ago and was amazed, at the number of young people who are interested in the man and his message (lots of Pakeha included), and at the amount of mana he possesses. I think he’ll go from strength to strength.
      David Shearer should lead Labour. He is articulate, effective and very likeable.

    9. By Elyse on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      in today’s Herald: “Goldman Sachs New Zealand chief executive Andrew Barclay said the election showed that people had voted for “a steady hand on the tiller” in a time of widespread economic uncertainty.

      He declined to comment further because Goldman is one of a handful of investment banks working with the Treasury on the Government’s mixed ownership plan”….

      Here we go, then.

    10. By donna on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Prepare to have your country sold down the river while the so-called centre left dithers about whether it really wants to be light pink or a slightly paler shade of blue.
      If Labour wants to regain the trust of the electorate it needs to have a credible jobs creation plan that will necessarily involve tipping up a few sacred free-market cows. I’m not holding my breath.
      In the meantime Deborah Coddington has endorsed David Shearer and Key has said Cunliffe. In a rational world that would be the kiss of death for them both.

    11. By Matt on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      NZ First also have a good chance of the special votes going their way – they were on about 8.5 seats on election night, National on about 59.6.
      Greens were on 13.0 or 13.1 so have a fair way to go (but a track record of picking up a high proportion of special votes)

    12. By Matt on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Is the informal 30-odd percent vote in any way indicative of any election, where maybe 30% or more of voters go into the ballot box uninformed?? Have studies been done on this?

    13. By Joe Blow on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      I’m picking Andrew Little for the new Labour Party leader, but usually a list MP would do a term at least before being made leader – still there’s no rule this has to be the case…

      I think that Labour voters voted for NZFirst either strategically because they wanted him back in to support Labour or because they are scared off by Labour’s policy to raise the retirement age.

      The other thing that I thought you would mention Gordon is that if National voters had not voted for Banks and Dunne then National would only have 60 seats as the Epsom and Ohariu electorate seats would have been swallowed up by National’s over all party vote. The review of MMP has got to stop this rorting of the system and forbid parties to publically suggest that their supporters vote for another pary’s candidate in order to override proportionality of MMP. Hopefully the tea cup scandal will result in this kind of move…

      Go the Greens! Over 10%! Woohoo!

    14. By peter w on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      The Nats wet dream of governing alone never happened and that was good.

      I think this is the high tide mark for the right so it looks like a two term govt.

      Regarding UF and the christians voters. I say full credit to them for deserting UF when it became clear how much Peter Dunne and UF were supported by the booze, gambling and ciggie industrys.

      UF was and is the most pro-vice party in parliament …….only ulta hypocritical christians could vote for Dunne

    15. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Donna, there is the Mighty, Mighty, NZ Green/Aoteoroa Party and the Mana Party, so there is still hope.

      Key and it’s gang of fascist Thugs have only got three years, and then they most probably will be thrown out.

      The problem is, how much damage to the Working-Class people of New Zealand will they be able to do during those three years?

    16. By Peter on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Interesting about Teagate – I am pretty sure that at no time did Key actually say to vote fort Act or United Future – He said he wouldn’t be unhappy … and he himself said that in Epson – his electorate he was voting for National and Paul Goldsmith. So it might be a hard thing to legislate for. What does have to change is that if you win a constituency seat you get one MP, if you get over the standard party threshold (which I am now tending to think (for oblivious reasons) should be at 7% – but am happy with 5%. So just stop the extra numbers given to parties with constituency seats and that would solve the problem. As it is the situation did not occur this time.

    17. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      The so-called “Labour” Party cannot be reviled enough: if they had of wanted to “win”, they would have have made Trevor Mallard their leader.

      Trevor Mallard is the only person in their entire political Party who has got any personality!!!

    18. By Elyse on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply


      out of interest, what is your favourite party, the Greens’, policy on your favourite war, Afghanistan?
      I looked on their website and could find nothing but waffling which is probably the reason you like them?

    19. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Elyse: Ze Polizie (a-la Pinochet Chile) are going to violently “remove” the “Occupy” Demonstrators in Auckland.

      This is a sign of things to come.

      John Key, the Goldman Sachs currency speculator, has made it terrifyingly clear that his evil intentions for New Zealand/Aoteroa are going to get the accellerator slammed to the Effing floorboard.

    20. By jackp on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Goldman Sachs helped with the meltdown.. now we have them in bed with the Prime Minister????? Guess what, you really think those two are thinking of ma and pa..and anyone want to bet Key doesn’t pass that law about only owning 10 percent of the shares max. It won’t happen.. he’ll have excuses ready when questioned, if he is questioned. Kiwi’s are thick sometimes. They should stop listening to Australia’s news media.

    21. By 6k944827 on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      The Greens policy on Afghanistan is 1/ we should never have been there in the first place, and 2/ we should leave immediatly.

    22. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Elyse: Joe Blow does actually seem to be in Love with the Murdering Spree in Afghanistan.

    23. By Leon Henderson on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Give me an Effing bathtub and a Goddamn plank for an oar to attempt to get to Australia!!!

    24. By Johanna on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply


      The voting paper made it clear that we did not have to tick an option for Question B in the referendum. When surveyed, I noted that party leaders (aside from Brash and Key) were going to leave Question B blank.

      I looked closely at all options and simply could not find any option to MMP that would recognise proportionality and so I was unable to answer Question B.

      My vote was not informal but informed. The election results should be reporting “no preference” as a valid response, and leaving informal for those that invalidated the paper.

    25. By RobertM on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      Part of the reason for the declining Labour share in Christchurch and Dunedin, must be the drift of liberal talent North and too Australia and furthur afield. Both cities appear to becoming increasingly provincial cold versions of Hamilton and Tauranga. This can be seen in the forced closure of the Cook and Bowling Green and Gardens in Dunedin and the deeper town v gown split and anti alchohol fervour of the old boys and girls of varsity staffs and social medicine depts.
      In Christchurch these trends are accentuated by the earthquake which is seeing an accelerating drift of the liberal elite under 55 out of the city. Many of these people will be old Barnett, Burns and Rod Donald supporters in Christchurch central. Having lived in Chrsitchurch Central in 2000-2 and 2004-5 my impression from those and other years in Christchurch was that Burns lacked the profile, energy and mana of the past incumbents. While Tim was a testy fish and one of my beit noires his shoebox campaigning was colorful and produced colorful reactions.

    26. By Joe Blow on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Elyse

      The Greens (most of the stuff on Afghanistan is written by Keith Locke) oppose the SAS being in Afghanistan. They seem to be more supportive of the the PRT. They oppose New Zealand involvement in United States-led coalition military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but support UN peace-building there, which is in line with my views.

      Incidentally, good point as I guess you’ve guessed that my views on intervention are not consistent with Keith Locke’s views on non-intervention in Libya.

      The initial invasion of Afghanistan under the banner of OEF was wrong (and probably illegal although that’s debatable – international law is not solid and still being developed). The ongoing occupation is probably illegal, but my point is that now that we have intervened and protected the predominantly Hazara population of Bamiyan from ethnically orientated reprisals etc, what kind of responsibility to protect those people do we now have?

      That’s not about winning the war on terror or beating the Taliban…

    27. By Joe Blow on Nov 28, 2011 | Reply

      @ Elyse

      Check out this military review the Afghanistan War. You’ll like it. It compares the Vietnam and Afghanistan Wars.

      This is what should have happened although the surge was probably necessary as when Obama took office the Taliban were back in control of most of the south and were knocking on the gates of Kabul…

    28. By Divilified on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      What’s with the comment about Question 2 of the referendum? Most supporters of MMP, once the polls showed clear advantage of the Yes to MMP, ticked Yes to question 1 and specified no alternative in question 2… why would they legitimate some other system?

      The 30% of “abstentions” to question 2 spoke louder than anything else… not that anyone cares after the outcome of question 1.

    29. By Leon Henderson on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      Elyse: You say that David Shearer should be the new leader of the Labour Party.

      I heard an in-depth interview with him, and if what he was saying can be comprehensively believed, then he is a real Socialist of the kind that this country desperately needs.

      But one massive problem Elyse: This country has been brainwashed by the almost entirely foreign-owned corporate mass-media into being an almost mindlessly shallow-thinking, populist, “Cult-Of-Personality” type of place, and unfortunately it is extremely doubtful if David Shearer has got the powers of “Personality Projection” to be able to successfully lead a political party in the kind of environment that New Zealand/Aoteoroa is: the mass-media will crucify him.

      I think that somewhere on Werewolf I said that Trevor Mallard is the only person in the so-called “Labour” Party (they aint no “Labour” Party: Michael Joseph Savage would be spinning in his grave if he could observe them!!!) with enough populist Grunt to get them back into power.

      But Trevor says he is not interested in being their leader.

      And therefore has essentially condemned them into being on the Opposition Benches for about the next three hundred years!!!

    30. By Leon Henderson on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      Gordon: David Cunliffe for the so-called “Labour” Party leader and David Parker for a Deputy?

      On the Opposition Benches for the next three thousand years!!!

    31. By Leon Henderson on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      See, Joe Blow: what the Wall-Street-owned mass media did to Sue Bradford’s “Political Future”???

      They Destroyed her.

    32. By Leon Henderson on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      Joe Blow, who the hell ARE you: either Richard Prebble, Donald Brash, John Key, or another one of their Vicious Creeps.

      Three Years of them!!!



      Direction: Australia!!!

    33. By Andrew R on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      John Key worked for Merrill Lynch.

    34. By Dee on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

      Hi Gordon, wonderful write up there. I have looked at the candidates for leadership of Labour, overall, and I see difficulties in the future, no matter who they vote in. Lots of snapping and barking at one another, made worse, as they are never ‘happy campers’ while in opposition. I still love and support them, however.

    35. By Jen on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

      “John Key went overseas to make himself $50,000,000
      David Shearer went overseas to save 50,000,000 people”

      I heard this today. Quite apposite I thought.

    36. By Leon Henderson on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

      Jen: John Key was housed and raised and looked after by the New Zealand State – his mother and him were Social Welfare Beneficiaries.

      He went to University (it was not only totally financially free back then, provided for free by the taxes of the Working-Class New Zealanders, but the students also got paid a pretty damn generous Social Welfare Benefit to live on while they were studying at the University) and all the while actually planning to commit one of the most heionous Criminal Acts that the humanoid mind is capable of of conceiving of.

      He went to University at the Working-Class taxpayers expense in order to become the Arch-Enemy of the very people who had housed, fed, clothed, and educated him.

      He went there to learn how to become a currency speculator.

      A buyer and seller of money!!!

      In the Bible they are called “Money Changers”, and in the New Testament Jesus Christ attacks them in the Temple Foyer with a rope as a “whip” and boots their tables over onto them, furiously yelling at them that they are “Defilers-Of-The-Temple”.

      It is the one solitary report in the Bible of Him ever having gotten violent.

      I am not young, but never have been able to find out/figure out (and have spent a hell of a lot of time on the Web attempting to learn) how money could be sold.

      How can money be sold and purchased?

      The concept is absolutely illogical.

    37. By Ian H on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

      So we have 40% of NZers who have finally started to wake up to the fact that NZ democracy is a con. The ruling power is not the people nor the politicians it is ultimately money and its minders Presently NZ democracy is Government of the people, by the advantaged, for the powerful.60% of kiwis support this fraud by continuing to participate in a corrupted system

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